Same old song
So did the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency finally make a decision?
B.A. “Ted” Breath
Meh. They did, but it’s pretty much the same old song, although they did make a small change. In case you missed it: Last week, the DEA decided not to change cannabis’ Schedule I status, meaning that the DEA still considers cannabis to be of no medical use and to be highly addictive, like GHB or heroin. Go figure. I talked about some of the reasons why the DEA probably wouldn’t change their position on pot in the column before this one (see “Overscheduled,” August 11). I had thought they would have tried to stall for a while longer, but they didn’t. Maybe they should have.
The new rules still keep cannabis listed as Schedule I, but they have loosened the restrictions on researchers who want to grow marijuana to use in medical studies.
Previously, scientists were only allowed to use cannabis from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Now, medical professionals looking to perform clinical trials can go the DEA website
drugreg/index.html#regapps), fill out form 225 and hope that they get approval. Good luck!
A few cool things have happened though: Many top scientists and politicians have lambasted the DEA’s decision. Dr. Carl Hart, a neuroscientist and associate professor of psychology at Columbia University, had this criticism in a recent Scientific American article: “The inconsistency of Federal laws with these other programs and initiatives, and with the increasing number of studies demonstrating the medical usefulness of the substance, makes marijuana’s Schedule I status seem like medical and/or governmental hypocrisy, undermining people’s’ trust in the relevant federal agencies.” And, he pointed out, “Recently, DEA commissioner Chuck Rosenberg described the very concept of medical marijuana as ’a joke.’ Perhaps it’s also a joke that a law enforcement agency has the final word on a medical issue.”
Nice burn, Dr. Hart.
He’s not the only one. Here is Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon congressman, giving them heck: “Keeping marijuana at Schedule I continues an outdated, failed approach—leaving patients and marijuana businesses trapped between state and federal laws. … It’s not right or fair,” he said in a statement.
The DEA’s self-serving decision even prompted Democratic Party presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to release a statement on how she would change the law if she were to be elected.
“As president, Hillary will build on the important steps announced today by rescheduling marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule II substance. She will also ensure Colorado, and other states that have enacted marijuana laws, can continue to serve as laboratories of democracy.”
It is so nice when politicians finally start listening to their constituents. Let us continue to help the DEA make good decisions by supporting cannabis legalization efforts on a local and national level.